Chaitra Navratri marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year as per the Lunar Calendar. The festivities begin on the Pratipada Tithi (first day), Chaitra, Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the Moon) and conclude with Rama Navami on the Navami Tithi (ninth day).
The Navami Tithi, Chaitra, Shukla Paksha marks the birth anniversary of Shri Rama. He was born into the Suryavanshi Ikshavaku Dynasty family and was hailed as Raja Ram by the people of Ayodhya. Furthermore, he was the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishu. Interestingly, Chaitra Navratri, dedicated to Mother Goddess Durga, which begins on the first day (Pratipada Tithi) of the Hindu New year as per the Lunar calendar, culminates with Rama Navami.
This year, Rama Navami will be celebrated on April 21.
The Navami Tithi starts at 12:43 AM on April 21 and ends at 12:35 AM on April 22.
Rama Navami puja should be performed during the Madhyana (afternoon). The Shubh Muhurat is between 11:02 AM to 1:38 PM.
The Nine forms of Durga
Devotees worship Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri during the nine days of Navratri.
On Ashtami Tithi during Navratri, devotees worship the Maha Gauri form of Durga. This day is also referred to as Maha Ashtami. On this day, some devotees even perform Sandhi Puja. The Chamunda form of Maa Durga came into being when Ashtami Tithi ended, and Navami began to kill demons, Chanda and Munda. Therefore, the time that marks the confluence of these tithis is significant.
And on the Navami Tithi, the Siddhidatri form of Durga is worshipped. Interestingly, Navami celebrations concur with Rama Navami, a day that marks the birth anniversary of Shri Rama.
Rama Navami Significance
Rama Navami is one of the most significant dates in the Hindu calendar. As stated above, the day commemorates the birth anniversary of Shri Rama, who was born to King Dasharatha and his first Queen Kaushalya in the Treta Yuga.
Eldest of the four siblings, Rama was loved and respected by his younger brothers Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughan, and the people of Ayodhya. He established a kingdom where everyone felt happy and content. Hence, Ram Rajya (or Shri Rama's governance style) is often used as a metaphor to describe an ideal state.
The story of Lord Rama as told in the great epic Ramayana is one that most Indians know irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Lord Rama is a legendary figure, the epitome of all that is good and true, the man who vanquished the demon king Ravana. Lord Rama is not just a hero, but has been given the status of a god by the Hindus.
Therefore, Shri Rama's devotees observe a fast on Rama Navami from sunrise to sunrise. And those who live in Ayodhya take a dip in the holy waters of the Sarayu river before paying their Raja Ram.
On Rama Navami, devotees worship Shri Rama's baby form. Hence, they gently rock a cradle with Ram Lalla's idol resting on it. Besides performing a puja, devotees also read the Rama Katha to retell their beloved Ram Lalla's glorious life.